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Jerry’s World

A tale of two big cities.

By Jerry Langdon
Gannett News Service

(Monday, June 21, 1999) -- Half of the two-headed big city problem in Major League Soccer appears on the way to being resolved. The other half appears beyond short-term redemption.

The Los Angeles Galaxy, after an abysmal start, has righted itself and now stands at 8-6, solidly in fourth place in the tough Western Conference. Carlos Hermosillo has arrived, scoring goals in two straight games, which bodes well for future attendance in the Rose Bowl.

Coach Sigi Schmid's team also is getting the breaks that didn't fall the way of his fired predecessor, Octavio Zambrano. That was in full evidence Saturday night when the Galaxy played a D.C. United team without stars Marco Etcheverry and Jaime Moreno, and managed a last-second victory when Mauricio Cienfuegos converted a free kick for a 2-1 victory.

The Galaxy has benefited greatly by not only Hermosillo's arrival but the addition of attacking midfielder Roy Myers. This is a team that could win MLS Cup ‘99.

MLS officials are hoping the Western Conference playoff race isn't over with not even half the season played. Tailenders San Jose Clash and Kansas City Wizards are eight and nine points, respectively, out of fourth place.

The Clash has an extremely talented foreign contingent, but is fresh from a horrible performance in Chicago, where it lost, 2-0, despite being a man up for 68 minutes after Fire goalkeeper Zach Thornton was red-carded.

The Wizards are making progress under new coach Bob Gansler, and now have 15 goals after having problems scoring early in the season. They are making moves to improve the productivity of the foreign talent. Their zenith occurred Sunday against the New York/New Jersey MetroStars, a 6-0 humiliation, with the losers reaching their franchise nadir.

It was the fifth straight loss for the MetroStars, their ninth setback in 10 matches. This is a franchise that gambled that Lothar Matthaeus was going to be available, got rid of starters Arley Palacios and Roy Myers - and was left holding the bag when the legendary German defender decided to remain at Bayern Munich. Palacios starts with the Miami Fusion, Myers with Los Angeles.

This is a franchise that got rid of striker Giovanni Savarese, who now is starting with the New England Revolution. This is a franchise that got rid of All-Star defender Diego Sonora, now starting with D.C. United.

This is a franchise that got rid of star goalkeeper Tony Meola and defender Alexi Lalas, the former injured and the latter starting with Kansas City. This is a franchise that has one international player, forward Eduardo Hurtado, who is so isolated up front that his effectiveness is limited, at best.

This is a franchise whose biggest American name is midfielder Tab Ramos, who has been unable to stay healthy -- out of MLS action since injuring his leg in the season opener.

This is a fourth-year franchise now with its fifth coach, Bora Milutinovic, who still has time to make the Eastern Conference playoffs, since his club trails the Tampa Bay Mutiny by just four points. But it is not going to do anything with a lineup that reads Mike Ammann, Billy Walsh, Mike Petke, Kevin Knight, Brian Kelly, Eric Kvello, Mike Sorber, Ramiro Corrales, Mark Chung, Nansha Kalonji and Hurtado.

Jerry Langdon is sports editor of Gannett News Service and can be e-mailed at jlangdon@gns.gannett.com.

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